Boo the Bear and the case of the Nghe An 13 Bears is rapidly becoming a poster child for Vietnam's runaway illegal wildlife trade. In an unusual move, the detailed facts of this investigation have been made public to aid supporting governments and NGOs to take action.
The case has won an Honourable Mention in the International Photography Awards Deeper Perspective and a short film about the case called Lawless Lands was chosen to be screened at the International Vegan Film Festival 2020. It has also featured in several publications including The Diplomat.
Overview of the Case
An undercover conservation investigation discovered two closely located illegal bear farms on August 2018 in Quynh Yen, Quynh Luu, Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Farm 1 contained nine bears and Farm 2 contained four bears.
On 30th May 2019, the Nghe An Authorities finally persuaded Nguyen Duc Duy to release three of the nine bears on Farm 1 after a violent riot and attempted kidnap.
Although Duc Duy claims that of the remaining six bears on Farm 1, three are legal and the other three have damaged microchips, the evidence below reveals that they are unchipped, were poached from Laos and are being used for commercial bile extraction.
Evidence That The Bears Are Illegal
Bears Visibly Too Young To Be Legal. - A 2005 microchip programme registered all captive bears in Vietnam. This means legally owned bears are at least 15 years old. - The investigation revealed that the 9 bears on Farm 1 were small, young and therefore illegal. - Farm 2 had one smaller bear and 3 slightly larger ones. The larger bears did not show any obvious signs of adulthood/ageing. eg: broken teeth, calloused paws and the long-haired neck ruff was only visible when roused to aggression. - See photos and videos.
Microchip Excuses Are Irrelevant. - As the bears were visibly too young to be legal, Duc Duy's claims that microchips were broken are irrelevant. - The Nghe An Authorities should therefore have confiscated the bears immediately and without question.
Rescue Team Confirms Bears Are Illegal. - Whilst rescuing 3 bears from Farm 1, Emily Lloyd from Four Paws stated: - “It was pretty sad to have to leave the others behind, especially seeing that some were also young and therefore illegal bears.”
No registered bear cubs in Nghe An Province. - A common excuse when caught with illegal bear cubs/adolescents is to claim they were born on the farm. - This is not possible as "based on microchipping data, there are no bear cubs in Quynh Luu or in any farm in Nghe An Province."
Nguyen Duc Duy Admits Bears Are Illegal. - See video/audio entitled ‘Wildlife Farmer Admits Bears Are Illegal.' - The translator states that Duc Duy reveals in the video that some of his bears used to be microchipped but that none of them are now.
6. Oxford University Academic Confirms Bears are Illegal. - To corroborate the attending Vietnamese translator, an Oxford Academic translates the ‘Wildlife Farmer Admits Bears Are Illegal" video/audio. He states: - Duc Duy “admitted that they first bought these bears illegally” - Duc Duy “is aware that he is keeping the bears illegally”
7. Video interview with the translator who attended the farms. - See video below entitled 'Vietnamese Translator's Evidence.' - The farmer admitted to the translator that he bought the bears as1kg cubs from Laos. - As Asiatic Black Bears are CITES Appendix I species this breaks international conservation laws. - Duc Duy also said the bears were all aged 3 - 5 years old. - There was also a 7-month-old cub.